Steampunk Summer: Author Nicholas J. Ambrose on Legos, Swords, and His Upcoming Series

In preparing for Steampunk Summer, I looked at 2 dozen steampunk books, trying to decide which authors to ask for interviews to post here.  Lindsay Buroker was one I liked (her interview is here), and Nicholas J. Ambrose was the other.

Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada promised several things I couldn't walk away from that hooked my interest.  Tons of adventure (sky pirates! sky ports!).  A great, real-feeling human element to the characters and their situation (the crew, the unwilling ride-along).  And of course Ruby Celeste herself, the captain of the airship Pantheon, with an attitude and a flourish of the sword to match her fiery red hair.  (Anyone who's known me for a long time will remember I got my publishing start 10 years ago with a spunky, red-headed heroine, but that's a story for another day.)

Nicholas was generous enough to spare some time from his various projects to answer some of my most pressing questions.  His answers, like his books, are honest, open, and hilarious.

The most up-to-date photograph of Nicholas J. Ambrose.

How did you get started writing?  What’s your origin story?

I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t like writing - which, really, is quite an unexciting origin story. So, let’s try jazzing it up a little.  

Come with me. I’d like to take you on a journey to a summer’s day. I’m on the floor in my bedroom, playing with Legos.

Preceded by the smell of off-brandy, Mother walked up the stairs.

“Nick! Would you stop playing with those bloody toys all the time?!”

“But I’m having fun!” I protested.

“You’re twenty-six! God, do something with your bloody life.”

“But Mu-um!”

“Get rid of them!” This, a shriek. She took a long swig of brandy. “This is why your father left, damn it!”

She went then, but not without sowing the first seed of my shame. Yet - these Legos. I could not simply abandon them! Their tales were incomplete!

I continued this play for five months. Finally, one morning I woke to discover the house cold. I had no clue how to work the heating, and went to find Mother for her help. But she was gone, and my Legos with her. Only a misspelled note remained, vapours so pungent they drew actual lines in the air, ready to explode at even the word ‘spark.’

You have broke this family, so I have sold your modles and gone away to find your father. Do not loke for us. You are no son of mine.

Without my toys, I did the only thing I know how: I began telling stories, in hopes to one day have the money to travel west, to America - where, finally worthy of their love, I will reunite with my family.

(I still have not figured out the heating.)

I understand the obsession with Legos.  They unlock creativity - or at least, that's what I tell myself. What genres do you write in, and what do you like about them?

Although most of my output is genre fiction of some kind, I do have a deep-seated love of general fiction. Character stories are the sort that have always struck me most powerfully, and I try to carry that into all my work in some way. Genre is secondary, and chosen either because some aspect of it allows me to put a different spin on a literary story, or more simply because the genres I pick are hella cool.

Well said. Which are your favorite characters in your book and why?

If I had to pick, I would probably go for ALL OF THEM. Assuming that’s not allowed (it’s probably not), Brie Channing, introduced in Ruby Celeste #2, is my favourite. She’s a living oxymoron: endlessly nervous, and really somewhat quivery, but also possessed with endless reserves of naïve ballsiness. She’s really fun.

What does your cover tell us about your book?

There is at least one sword.

I love that Ruby's weapon of choice is a sword instead of a gun, dagger, or crossbow.  It's different and makes great action scenes.  What are you working on now?  How is it similar to or different from Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada?

I’m taking a little break from Ruby at the moment to work on something a bit different. ‘They Call Me Storm’ is the first part in an urban fantasy series launching toward the end of this summer. I’m not saying much more just yet, but if you check out my swanky website Regarding THE HIVE (www.regardingthehive.co.uk) I’ll begin talking in more depth very soon.

 (I see red hair, so I'm excited!  Also, Nicholas has an easy-to-find mailing list option right on the front page of his site, so that makes a nice option for keeping up with his projects.)

Click to learn more about the Ruby Celeste Collection on Amazon.

The first 3 books of the Ruby Celeste series are now available as a gorgeous and very well-priced box set.  So if you like steampunk, air pirates, or want to see if you will, I'd jump on that deal.

To follow Nicholas J. Ambrose on Twitter, click here.

To find the Ruby Celeste Collection off-Amazon, you can find it on Smashwords here and Kobo here.

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